Foto: Mikael Bertmar

LIVET – Ulla Kraitz Gustav Kraitz

Ulla (born 1936) and Gustav (born 1926) Kraitz are two artists with different educations and backgrounds. They have different temperaments and great integrity. From the beginning they worked in their respective genres. Ulla painted and Gustav sculpted. Two individual artists have developed into an artistry.

Gustav Kraitz started working with ceramics early on. He developed and experimented with an ancient Chinese firing technique and glazing. This technology is unique.

The Kraitz couple work both with organic and geometric shapes such as spheres and cubes as well as with realistic elements that are based on the body and nature. Together they have worked up a beauty that is completely disconnected from their egos.

The forms are archaic and universal and express the origin and enigma of life.

Life is beauty!


Outside the Birgit Nilsson hall, the films Ulla and Gustav Kraitz – A long and joint artist’s journey (15 min) and Gustav Kraitz – Kolet, flammorna og brännnunen liturgy (10 min) are shown.

Opening speech by Göran Hermerén, RAVINEN 21 May

It is a great joy for me to be able to inaugurate this exhibition of Ulla and Gustav Kraitz’s art, and to be able to do it in this particular place. RAVINE would not have existed if Gustav and Ulla had not worked for several decades to realize the idea of such a cultural center here in Norrviken.

Both artists, long-time residents here on the Bjäre Peninsula, have also, as everyone here knows, had international success with exhibitions in many parts of the world, in the USA, China, and a number of European countries such as France, Germany, Hungary…

From the beginning, Ulla was a painter and Gustav a sculptor. Gustav started working with ceramics early on and experimented with a Chinese firing technique and glazing – and developed a unique technique that also attracted great interest in China. I remember that a Chinese delegation visited Gustav in Fogdarp a few years ago to study his technique.

The exhibition at RAVINEN gives a nice picture of Ulla and Gustav’s artistry. We see how they work with both geometric shapes such as spheres and cubes as well as with organic form elements that originate from the body and nature.

Göran Christenson has been the curator, and the finely arranged exhibition shows – as is also clear from his exhibition text – how two initially different artistic expressions and temperaments have become more integrated over time, not least in collaborative projects such as the Wallenberg monument in New York.

This means that we see a change in the individual artistic expressions, from more clearly representative images, especially in Ulla’s paintings, towards greater simplification and abstraction, not least in her collages. But the development is not clear cut.

There is also a constancy in the approach to the artistic assignment. Both artists have chosen their path without looking at fashion trends in the art world. Both have strong integrity in their work.

If you look more closely at the apparently realistic and imaginative works shown in the exhibition, sculptures such as Conversation or paintings such as Boken knocks out, you discover a far-reaching abstraction; it is an experience of something or a consciousness of something embodied; they do not depict certain definite twins or trees. The imagery is easy to read, but the works contain more than what the first glance suggests.

It is also felt strongly in the installation of pillows in the room facing the sea. Ulla and Gustav have sculpted and fired pillows in different sizes and fascinating glazes. In Stockholm and Lund, among others, there are also pillows placed in parks. Cushions have a function in our lives that invites symbolic interpretations, and they also have an interesting history in art, as shown in the catalog.

That their work contains more than what immediately meets the eye is perhaps most evident in the many small and large female torsos that are in the installation in the main hall. Here the bodies have been simplified, everything unessential is gone, the art is distinctly aesthetic in the simple sense that nothing can be added and nothing can be removed without the work becoming worse.

In the same room there is also a stand, which contains, among other things, objects in imaginative shapes, some reminiscent of beans, others of embryos and shells. They are finely arranged like a magic circle or spiral. It is an important work, which invites several interpretations. It can, as is clear from the catalog text, bring to mind a beach find thrown ashore after a storm. The circular or spiral movement can also be seen in several ways, which affects the experience of the work: it can start from the outside and move in towards the center, or start in the center and move out towards the periphery, where the largest objects are.

An art exhibition whose theme is “Life” easily raises questions about how art and life relate to each other, especially how the artists’ lives and their art are related. There are many pitfalls here, both for the art historian and for the artist. Ulla and Gustav skillfully avoid these pitfalls. They dare to start from themselves, from their experiences and experiences. But their art never becomes private or sentimental. They embody experiences that many have or have had and their art does so in a universal way.

A theme such as “Life” can be illustrated and processed by making pictures or sculptures of things that live or resemble things that grow: embryos, pregnancy, pregnant women, birth. There are, of course, forms of life other than human: sprouts, beans, eggs, plants, trees, snails, cats, horses… they grow and live too, and their forms can enrich the imagery. Among Ulla’s many works, there is also the fine painting The old cherry tree blooms after all… from 1978, which is full of flowers in various white, light pink and blue-white tones.

The changing of the seasons reminds us of life and change, as do colorful images of autumn motifs. Nature has been a strong source of inspiration in the artistry of the Kraitz couple… The bean, the snail, the snail, the egg and the embryo returned